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Domestic Violence

What is domestic violence?
What are the types of abuse?
How can I tell if my partner is abusive?
What is the first step in breaking a pattern of abuse?
What is a safety plan?
What resources are available to help abused women?

What is domestic violence?

  • This is a pattern of threatening or controlling behavior imposed on a woman by an intimate partner without regard for her rights, feelings, body, or health
  • A woman is abused if she has had intentional, often repeated, physical, sexual, or emotional harm done to her by a person with whom she is or has been in an intimate relationship

What are the types of abuse?

  • Abuse can take many forms
  • Some common types of abuse include the following:
    • Battering and physical assault
      • Throwing objects at the victim, pushing, hitting, slapping, kicking, choking, beating, or attacking with a weapon
    • Sexual assault
      • Forced sexual activity, including vaginal, oral, or anal intercourse
    • Psychologic abuse
      • Forcing the victim to perform degrading acts such as:
        • Threatening to harm a partner or her children
        • Attacking or smashing valued objects and pets
        • Trying to dominate or control a woman?s life
  • There are many ways an abuser may try to control a woman?s life
    • Some may take away her money, food, sleep, clothing, or transportation
    • Some may keep a woman from being in touch with her family and friends
    • Others may control her reproductive choices by trying to prevent the use of birth control

How can I tell if my partner is abusive?

  • Disagreements and arguments, even heated ones, are part of a normal relationship
    • Physical violence or other abusive behavior is not
  • Everyone has a right to get angry
    • No one has the right to express anger violently to hurt you
  • Has your partner ever done the following:
    • Frighten you with threats of violence or by throwing things when he is angry?
    • Say it is your fault if he hits you?
    • Promise it will not happen again, but it does?
    • Put you down in public or keep you from contacting family or friends?
    • Force you to have sex when you do not want to?
  • If you answered ?yes? to any of these questions, you may be involved in an abusive relationship
    • If so, you are not alone and you have choices
    • No one deserves to be abused

What is the first step in breaking a pattern of abuse?

  • Make sure to tell someone
    • You can contact them in case you need to leave a dangerous situation
    • The person you tell may be a nurse or doctor, counselor or social worker, a close friend or family member, or a clergy member
  • At first, you may find it hard to talk about the abuse
    • Many abused women feel a great sense of relief and some a sense of safety once they have told someone outside the home
    • Feelings of shame are common at this point
  • Keep in mind that no one deserves to be abused
  • Violent behavior is the fault of the one who is violent, not the victim

What is a safety plan?

  • A safety plan can help you and your children get out of a violent situation quickly
  • You can take these steps ahead of time:
    • Pack a suitcase
      • Keep a change of clothing for you and your children, bathroom items, and an extra set of keys to the house and car with a friend or neighbor
    • Keep special items in a safe place
      • Have important items handy so you can take them with you on short notice
      • These may include prescription medicines, identification, extra cash, checkbook, and credit cards
      • Also include medical and financial records, such as mortgage documents or rent receipts
      • Be sure to take a special toy or book for each child
    • Talk to your children
      • Let them know that it is not their role to try to stop the fighting
      • Tell them to call the police or get help from a family member, friend, or neighbor
    • Know exactly where you will go
      • Regardless of the time of day or night, know a friend?s or a relative?s home or a shelter for battered women where you can go
      • Try to avoid fighting in a kitchen or bathroom where your abuser may have access to weapons or where there is no escape
    • Call your health care provider or go to the emergency room if you are hurt ? Give your health care provider complete information about how you were injured.
      • Ask for a copy of the medical record so you can file charges if you wish
    • Call the police
      • Domestic violence is a crime
      • Give the police complete information about the incident
      • Be sure to get the officer?s badge number and a copy of the report in case you want to file charges later

What resources are available to help abused women?

  • No matter what choices you make, counseling can help you with matters that will arise as you begin to make changes in your life such as:
    • Counselors can help with finding a job or dealing with money concerns or children?s problems
    • Sometimes a woman who has been abused decides to break away from her partner for good
      • If this is the case and you are married to the abuser, get a lawyer who is experienced in dealing with abuse cases
    • If money is a concern, check out the resources in your area
      • Many communities have legal aid services
    • Ask your health care provider, counselor, or the staff of a hotline to recommend one
  • For more information about resouces in your area, call the 24?hour, toll?free National Domestic Violence Hotline: 800?799?SAFE (7233) and 800?787?3224 (TDD)

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